“Niko-chan, snap out of it”
Sakura flicks the other’s nose playfully to catch her attention. Nico would yelp at the flick and rub her nose, protesting to her friend who giggled at the reaction. They were walking together down the streets into the busy area of the city. They enjoyed walking together, taking time to buy something at one of the bakeries or shops.
The topics varied, focusing mostly on classes since Nico was nervous she had not payed attention to the afternoon classes. They were both dedicated and studious girls, despite their love for video games. Piorities were clear... for the most part, as they were always paying attention to lessons and doing their best to ace their exams. Their scores were amongst the highest in the class, though Nico didn’t really aim to be the #1. Chiyo, however, was the one who did get flustered over exams and grade average. She was the #1 position of their school; Nico around the 5th.
Chiyo protests while slapping on the other’s head her study notes.
“At least pay attention!”
“One more bite”
The playful quarrel of the two girls makes an adorable ruckus in the bakery “Pur Delice”, they favorite. Their antiques were always proper and their presence down the usual streets was already expected and met with greetings and/or small talk. Soon, they both reach the building where the offices of her Father’s company “Digital Phoenix” were stationed, and with a big logo.
“Good Afternoon Miss Sato, Miss Tanaka”
“Hello Beatrice. My uncle and sister still here?”
“Yes, in your offices.”
“Ok. Thank you!”
She raises her voice as they hadn’t stopped to chat and had walked past the Lobby’s counter and recepcionist towards the elevators. Nico moved with ease and comfort as she greeted older men, women, executives, etc. Sakura... not so much. The mousy, shy girl simply kept close and behind Nico at all times. The elevator soon chimed at the top floor, the company’s main offices.
Fitz sighed as he came out of the elevator, his neck felt tense. Apparently, Lou’s idea was far more ambitious than anticipated. The device’s blueprints had caused quite the uproar in the modeling department as they bickered and protested both on the short notice and on how they were supposed to create such a compact and intricate piece of hardware. Everything was finely compacted and it had to both function properly and with the least amount of problems. His persuasion and people skills were always required in such errands, but this time they were barely enough as he motivated the group to please place it as a priority. The departments were also conflcitive in their way, but they each agreed to do their part... leaving only one area to be consulted.
The laughter of girls rattled him from his daze and autonomous walk towards Lou’s office. 2 girls, short, elegant, pretty, youthful, seemed no older than 15, past by him and into the elevator he had just exited. He found it curious as he watched them leave. However, priorities urged him to let the topic go and focus on what was at hand... he really wanted to meet the famous Creative Director of Digital Phoenix’s Gaming Division.
“Fitz, did everything go well?”
“You gave me the short stick of this idea.”
“Only because i know you can do it.”
“Gee... i’m flattered”
They both laughed as the words that came from his mouth were dry of any emotion. He clearly hadn’t enjoyed the trip to the other floors. Lou however brushed his attitude off with her own excitement.
“It got approved, i did it!”
“You mean... i actually went and did all this WITHOUT approval?”
“Then why are you excited?”
“Umm... because it’s my idea.”
“I could’ve gotten fired!”
“Not if i opposed”
Fitz sighs in defeat as the girl of his height wrapped an arm around his neck.
A fake hurray for which Lou pushes him playfully.
“Ok, Mr. Grumpy. We still have work to do.”
Lou straightens up and gets serious as her uncle stood by the door she had just come out from. His eyes were serious, but soon a smile curls around his old lips.
“Good job. I’m expecting to see that prototype soon.”
“I’ll delegate duties to the teams to be able to have something to show for next meeting.”
“I hope so. The committee is very interested in it. It could mean a big change and success for the company.”
Lou smiles as she bows her head.
“Thank you. I’m sure the market will embrace it.”
“Speaking of which, we will need to talk with your sister.”
“I think she should be here already.”
Her Uncle's surprised face made her giggle.
“I know, i know, i was surprised as well.”
“Indeed, well... go fetch her, or send your assistant here.”
Fitz stands upright with eyes that showed nothing less that happyness. The two before him chuckled at his reaction.
“You haven’t told him?”
“Nothing at all.”
“You devil woman, and you poor soul.”
Lou and her uncle laugh loudly as the old, yet firmly built man struts out the door and towards his own office at the other end of the floor. Lou still took a while to compose herself from the joke.
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Oh... no...not at all. Maybe. Either way, my sister is waiting.”
“Is there something i should know about her?”
“No... you’ll see.”
“I dont like this anymore.”
Lou pressed the elevator’s button and it chimed as it opened. her smile was devilish, enjoying this. Fitz felt uneasy; what could be off about the creator of such a fantastic game? Maybe the years had made herr crazy. Or she was a deranged genius. Or perhaps a stuck up do to the success of his game? Who was this person he admired and respected?
“Miss Sato, how about this concept art for the heroes?”
“Miss Sato, What do you think of this story board?”
The wave of voices reminded Nico quite quickly on why she disliked coming to work. As she focused only on her “desk” which was composed of 3 desks creating a C shape in a corner of the room (now with stacks of paper), she simply looked at Sakura who simply shrugged as she sat on the edge of the desk behind her. She actually liked the installation on her desk: 6 4K screens with a CPU with the latest specs, a professional gaming Mouse, Mechanical keyboard, GA.IM and other consoles. Her division was respeced a year ago at her wish, and (at the time) it was seen as an unnecesary expense from the company and its board... but, they were all now shushed by the success the division had amassed with their first game.
Nico stared as she stood up, removing her sound proof headphones, at her team leaders- the room finally in silence and emptied. She really strained the line of respect with them, for obvious reasons. However, when she decided to get serious, most of them could only agree. She wasn’t the most technically prepared (code, modeling, etc.) but she had a clear idea, and had mastered at her short age the concepts of game design, story board, art design and game development. Efficient and trusting, she always made her team feel needed and valuable... she needed them.
“Ok, let’s keep it simple.”
The silence increases as everyone expected orders.
“We are stopping the next expansion for now. We’ll leak information on there being technical issues and that we’ll open a Beta server. It’s lies, but we need time.”
The team exhaled in relief.
“However, the beta server will be useful in a future. How possible is it?”
“We’d need another server room, miss.”
“Mostly it’s physical installation than us transferring a copy then?”
The room goes silent.
“Then...we’ll hold that promise over our heads for a while. It’s best if our division can buy the gear ourselves with earnings than asking the company.”
“Next. Storyboard, art, animation... with me and Chiyo. The rest, you have freetime.”
While the respective leaders moved towards her, the other leaders squinted at her questioningly.
“We will talk in a moment. I’ll call you, for now...”
“There is a Guild called Golden Chimera, contact them and follow their activity in-game.”
“The Esport Team, T+T sponsored, Golden Chimera?”
“Yes, we’ll need them to promote the competitive aspect of the game.”
“Why supervise their activity then?”
“They are eliminating other guilds, taking control of all the land.”
There is a chuckle as they idea of such a thing happening was just farfetched and considered impossible for any player guild to achieve such a thing. However, the serious face of Sakura and Nico makes the leaders swallow hard and cold sweat to surface on their skin. Her eyes got that serious only when she played games, something wasn’t done as she said and she wasn’t told, and when something was awfully wrong.
“We’ll get on it right away.”
As they left, mumbling and moving quickly to their teams, Nico could only sigh heavily as Sakura grabbed the leaders' papers and began to place them on the desks to speed things up a bit. She was always helping, acting as Nico’s assistant, but she was more than that, an extension of Nico’s will. Sakura was brilliant and understood code and programming at her age; such was why she had liberty and permission to move through the offices with Nico. They were a team.
“Ok... let’s begin.”
Nico said as she stretched her body.
“I’ll check the animation, ’kay?”
“Good idea Chiyo, i’ll take on the story.”
The elevator chimed as it reached the level where the Game Division had been stationed- sharing a floor with the areas of Publicity and Sales. The areas worked very cohesively since Nico made the floor hers. Lou still wondered what she had done to them, to silence even the Directors. She hoped never to know.
“I’ve come to this floor and i haven’t seen the Director even once. Is she... like... out?”
“You could say that”
Lou replies with a grin.
“Is she one of those artistic geniuses that exhiles himself to meditate and get inspiration?”
Lou looks at him very amused as they walk past the servers, past the rather busy looking programmers, past the hectic artistic departments (that was wierd).
Lou opens the crystal door to a rather large and empty office, filled with only a large 3 sided desk, the latest tech in consoles, screens and gaming hardware, and the likes- a place suitable for Nico to game. It was rather empty, except for 2 girls: one on the IM.Chair (just like the ones at their home) with a GA.IM on and another with a tablet on the couch. They were the same girls he had seen earlier. Why were they here?
“Hey, Chiyo. Hey, darling.”
Chiyo stands from the couch to bow properly to the girl, while Nico removes the GA.IM and turns on her seat. She grabs a stressball on a table beside her and flings it at Lou’s head. She catches it.
“I’ll take that as you got my news and blueprints?”
“I won’t put my team to work on that. We have priorities.”
Fitz face fills with confusion as he double blinks trying to grasp those words.
“Honey, it could help your game even more.”
“I know, but i have a bigger problem.”
“What? Bugs? You pulled the story again? You will push back the next expansion?”
“All of the above.”
Lou stops in her tracks, shocked.
“I made a mistake.”
“A guild is conquering the Battlegrounds, eliminating all other guilds. Making an empire territory.”
“Really? But that is a lot of...”
The two girls reply in unison. Chiyo moves up to Lou and hands her the tablet, which showed 12 portraits (3 of which where “?” marks). The portraits all showed a male between 16-20 years old wearing a red shirt with golden details and a golden chimera at its center, with the T+T logo on its sleeves. It was an ESports team.
“This... is the guild?”
The girls answer in unison.
“But... you wanted to contact them to promote competitive gameplay. Right?”
“Yeah, but they also placed a rather ambitious objective that is actually plausible, since they have a big corporation behind them.”
“Wow... and you...”
“I didn’t... i didn’t think a team would hop in so soon.”
“Is it bad?”
“It’ll ruin the experience for players. A single guild ruling all? charging you tax? Feels hindering and unfair.”
“True. What will you do?”
Chiyo takes the tablet and places it on the first portrait.
[Mage: lvl 20 |PVP RANK: Challenger| Gear Score: 220 (MAX)]
[Gender: Male| Race: Elf |Guild: Au-CH]
Her voice shakes but she answers.
"Th-their leader. H-he's leading the crusade. W-we can patch new rules, but not fair for them too. It'll... harm the game's image, and s-scare a competitive team."
"Ok... but a patch is being worked on?"
The girls answer together.
"B-but, we can also... challenge them."
Chiyo's voice is low and shy at the comment. Nico simply smiles as she bumps her friend and urges her to go on. Chiyo takes a deep breath.
"I-if in the next competitive season they can be defeated, the game will gain reputation, boost competitiveness and counter their conquest plans."
"And... who's going to take them down? Is there any guild good enough?"
Nico responds, as Chiyo moves some things on the tablet.
"But... our real plan is..."
Chiyo shows a navy blue and black shirt with the white letters RDM and a white cube behind with navy blue question marks (?), and the logo of Digital Phoenix on its sleeves.
The girls start in unison and after a giggle, Nico urge Chiyo to continue.
"We could take them down."
Lou stares at her sister.
"You just want to be MLG."
"No, think of it as players vs creators."
Lou ponders at this... it was a very juicy media idea that could sell and spread like wild fire. If they won or lost, the game got recognition, and it bought time for the patch Nico wanted. However, it meant the company would have to "hire" the players.
"Nico, we dont have that much budget to hire players."
"It wont be for long, just... a couple bucks for each"
"I dont know... i'd need to talk to the board. And that's hard since i just sold them MY idea."
"Ask them for a trial. 2 months. 2 months i open the tournament. We win, the company keeps the team. We lose, we disband."
"It's a heavy gamble, darling."
"I trust my teammates."
Lou sighs, and looks at the serious eyes of her sister.
"You were very quiet. Did the cat catch your tongue?"
"How old is your sister?"
"17. And remember i can and will charge you if you have any indecent thoughts or intentions."
"Let it go."
"Dont worry about it."
As Fitz continued to try and explain himself, with no results, he pondered on what had happened. The person he admired so much was a 17 year old girl.
"Your sister made RoL?"
"So you ARE disappointed."
"i'm not! I'm just... really surprised and... well... makes me really think what i've done with my life."
Lou's snickering stops at his surprisingly honest answer. Her lips curl into a warm smile as she watches him comb his golden short hair back, his glasses sliding from his nose and his tie crooked a bit. He seemed to be in deep thought, it was a lot to handle too. He must've had a competely different concept of who the director of the gaming division would've been.
Lou calls his attention rather sweetly. He turns to face her.
"Why so down?"
Lou asks with an evil smile as she slides a finger up his nose, pushing his glasses back into position. He smiles, blushing slightly as he adjusts his tie too and takes a deep breath.
"It's nothing. I'm actually more worried about you."
Now it was Lou's turn to blush and look surprised as she turns around and continues to move foward.
"Oh, and why is that?"
"You have appointments from here 'til 8."
Lou protests and nudges him in protest.
"I'll buy you dinner."
"Oh, as a date?"
"No, miss. As my job."
Lou pouts playfully, making them both chuckle. But, she felt really happy he was always taking care of her. It felt... nice.
"Ok, go get 'em boss."
"Yeah, it was a surprise to meet her."
Lou grabbed the knob of the door as she smiled to him.
"Dont worry, she's still awesome."
"She is, but she still relies a lot on you."
"Well... i am the boss."
They chuckle. And Fitz moves up to dust off the shoulder pads of her elegant and femenine business suit.
"An awesome boss. I'll go get us dinner."
As he left Lou felt her cheeks warm up and a grin creep up her cheeks.
She swerves on her heels as she steals a last glance at her assistant and giggles as she enters the meeting room once again.